New parochial vicar at St. Therese comes from India

Friday, May. 31, 2013
New parochial vicar at St. Therese comes from India + Enlarge
Father Arokia Dass David
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

MIDVALE – The Reverend Arokia Dass David, effective Aug. 7, will be assigned as the parochial vicar of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church in Midvale.

Father Dass was ordained a priest on April 26, 2009 By the Most Rev. Anthonisamy Neethinathan, Bishop of Chingleput, India.

He attended the seminary for 14 years, since he was in the 11th grade. However, he didn’t initially think he was meant to be a priest.

"My father asked me to go to a camp …but I didn’t know it was a camp for formation of priesthood," said Fr. Dass, adding that he even prayed to God that he was not one of the people selected to enter the seminary, but he was.

"The day that I was supposed to receive the letter of acceptance I didn’t, so I thought my prayers were answered, but a week later the letter came," said Fr. Dass. "My father asked me to go the seminary and I agreed."

At the beginning it was difficult for him because he had to leave his home, his family and his parents.

But at the seminary he kept very busy, and didn’t have time to be homesick.

"I received a Bible and they told me to go and finish reading the Bible within a year, so the full year I was occupied reading the Bible, so I had no time to think about my family. In my free time I was reading about God," said Fr. Dass.

In the course of time at the seminary many things happened, and eventually Fr. Dass felt that God really wanted him to become a priest, to walk toward him.

After his ordination, Fr. Dass was appointed vice rector of the St. Joseph seminary in India for one year, and also as parochial vicar of Holy Family Church.

Over there he initiated the "Holy Family Stations," which Father Dass said were by the community.

"It was by the inspiration of God. We had 12 stations. We had a novena in which we used to pray for the sick and after it we did the stations," said Fr. Dass, adding that this tradition that he instituted is still in place at the parish.

During his second year as a priest, Fr. Dass was appointed as secretary for Bishop Neethinathan. His next appointment was to the Mahzahe Malea Shrine; the name translates as Shrine of Mary. There, Fr. Dass celebrated special services that were attended by about 100,000 people every month.

"Most of them were Hindus, some of them Muslims and Christians. They came from different places. We used to have services from 5 p.m. to early morning – 4:30 a.m.," said Fr. Dass.

The invitation to apply for the Diocese of Salt Lake City came while he was appointed to another parish, acting as its pastor for a year.

"I was in the shrine and was praying. When I came out there was an old lady that told me, ‘You will go to a different country and do a mission,’ and then she disappeared. I was searching for this lady and couldn’t find her," said Fr. Dass. "The next day I spoke to a providential sister and she had received a call from a priest from the U.S.A. This all happened all of a sudden, and in the conversation the priest told her that it might be a good idea that I spend time in the U.S. with the devotion of the Lady," said Fr. Dass.

With the permission of his bishop, he applied to be a missionary to Diocese of Salt Lake City and was accepted.

Fr. Dass is living at Saint Patrick Parish in Salt Lake City for the summer, acclimating to the new environment and culture. Father Lourduraj Gally, pastor of St. Patrick, also is from India.

Fr. Dass has already met with the St. Therese of the Child Jesus community.

"They are very good people. I am enjoying my presence here, because back in India it’s completely different. I am trying to do my better best," said Father Dass, who would like the community to know that "we always need to pray to our Lady, for the sins that are too many in this world. We must pray so God will have mercy for this world. It’s what Mary expected. She always asked to pray for the mercy of God. Pray to our Lady. She is very real. She is always present in our Mass. She prays for us. She always sees us."

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